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Simply subliminal!

Treat for connoisseursTejendra Narayan Majumdar; Gauri Pathare

Treat for connoisseursTejendra Narayan Majumdar; Gauri Pathare  

Technical virtuosity and speed have, in recent decades, become the norm rather than exception at classical music concerts. And this is true for both, vocal and instrumental recitals. The endless rounds of acrobatics executed without any purpose, have become the test of an impressive performance, where you do not bother about the raga. In fact, there is no raga but just scale, with no urgent need for total tunefulness (swara-shuddhi), maintaining the purity and steadiness of each note; leave aside other vital matters of vision and poetry in it. The raag-dhyaan or meditative contemplation of the raga has become (if at all) a part of theory not practice.

No wonder the invitation by the Naadyatra Foundation for Naadyatra Raag Mahotsav, offering ‘A Raag Dhyaan Experience of Yaman’ with focus on Dhyaan in raga music; pulled a huge crowd of music lovers to the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts auditorium recently The jam-packed hall hall had visibly a large number of young listeners.

The focus of this event was on presenting different dimensions and interpretations of raga Yaman, one of the most melodious and spacious ragas of Hindustani Raagdaari Sangeet. The vocal and instrumental recitals of the raga were aimed to create ‘Dhyaan’ and artistes Gauri Pathare for khayal, Tejendra Narayan Majumdar for sarod and Gundecha Brothers for dhrupad were requested to take support of just the tanpura and percussions, no other instruments. The invite promised, ‘though the musicians are well known in their fields, the listeners would experience their music differently this evening’.

The greatest challenge was there for Gauri Pathare who opened the ‘Raag Mahotsav’ with just a couple of tanpuras and Abhay Datar on tabla to support her apart from her young disciple Sunita Bhatt. She was allowed no harmonium or sarangi support to inspire her with musical ideas or provide rest in between the consistent singing. Gauri tried to encourage her disciple but it sounded less of a support and more of a taalim (tutorial class), which is not desirable or proper on a concert platform.

Varied patterns

Gauri is an accomplished vocalist of the younger generation of musicians. She confessed “We do raga-dhyaan (contemplation on raga) when practising alone with our tanpura in the reclusive privacy of our home, with no pressure of performance”; before opening her concert with the bada khayal, “Banre balaiya…” set to vilambit Ek-tala, preceded with a subtle alaap, rich with the nuances of the melodious raga. She did succeed to do justice with the dhyaan aspect of Yaman during the slowly progressing alaap barhat traversing from mandra pancham to upper Gandhar, before proceeding to the alankarik aakar and bol-taans of varied patterns.

The famous chhota khayal “Kinare kinare….” set to addha theka of Teentala disclosed her rhythmic joy in the lovely leaping phrases. Gauri followed it with another richly ornate drut Ektala composition, “Bhaunre mat kar guman…” sung with flair and felicity. It was creditable of her to have managed without the harmonium support and she did start with the Dhyaan oriented rendering of the raga but ultimately she could not help being her usual brilliant self. The rousing raga intrigued the mind more than the heart. The overpowering jarring volume of the electronic tanpura proved a big hindrance in ‘dhyaan’. She concluded her recital with an abhang.

Pt. Tejendra Narayan Majumdar took the stage thereafter with Akhilesh Gundecha on pakhawaj. Coming from the Senia Maihar Gharana, he dealt raga Yaman, in Dhrupad style Been Ang, with a detailed alaap-jod jhala followed by a couple of compositions in Dhamar and Sool Tala. The finely tuned acoustic tanpura created perfect ambience for his reposeful alaap to reveal the dhyaan-roop of raga Yaman. The expansion through the interiors or the raga in lower octave was nimble with meditative ideas. He then gradually worked on the pivotal notes of the raga one by one as nyas, weaving contemplative web around them. Tejendra was careful to use elongated meend to move from one swara to the next which may be at times further away, avoiding the lighter veins like khatka and murki. His totally tuneful touches made each and every note come alive with dhyaan. The jod sequence also had gamak and dir dir ka kaam. Akhilesh’s Pakhawaj joined him during the jhala sequence, but by then the initial tunefulness of sarod had not remained the same.

Tejendra has got sharp ears too. He took time to retune his sarod before starting the composition and the deep, richly textured sound of the instrument made Yaman come swiftly to vivid life during the dhamar composition of 14-beat cycle. He once again wove marvellous spells of mathematical symmetry of swar and laya, often dodging the exact beat with ateet and anagat.

The concluding composition set to Sooltala saw Tejendra maintain the rhythmic cycle even during the fast jhala, working on different chhand of tisra, khand and misra jati of 3,5, and 7 matras. Akhilesh kept pace with his rhythmic patterns but surprisingly in the final tihai instead of a simultaneous ‘sam’, they both reached the ultimate ‘sam’ one after the other.

Gundecha Brothers (Umakant and Ramakant) reached the Raag Dhyaan Experience to its ultimate destination, where it was supposed to take the listeners, as they said “the alaap of Dhrupad is the journey of bhava and dhyaan.” Opening the alaap with just humming like an ‘Anuswara’ of ‘Om’; they took ample time to establish just the base with ‘dha ni re, ni dha sa’ as if meditating on the main tonic the ‘Shadja’. Gradually the loops of meend encircled the progression of swaras first till the mandra shadja and then leisurely proceeded to the madhya and taar, with correspondingly accelerating tempo complimenting each other with ‘swar-samvad’.

The sequence of sthayi, antara, sanchari and abhog was clearly visible even in the detailed alaap before Pt. Dal Chand Sharma of the Nathdwara tradition joined them on pakhawaj with the dhrupad composition ‘Pratham Shareer Dhyaan….” in Chautala. His vigour inspired (rather forced) Ramakant to reciprocate rhythmically, playing hide and seek with the laya (the rhythm) in bolbaant sequence, while Umakant tried to bring them back to the dhyaan aspect.

Their dhrupad recital concluded with a Sooltala composition, “Shiva Shiva dhyavat….”, where the last line would come back from tar shadja to madhya shadja as ‘Sa, Pa, Ga, Sa’, disturbing the dhyaan of discerning listeners from the conventional raag roop of Yaman, by this unconventional chalan.

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